This message sent to ChildLit Listserv on Thursday, July 24, 1997 is reprinted with the kind permission of the author, Debby Churchman, as well as the permission of the owner of ChildLit, Michael Joseph.
I'm writing to ask [Children's Books in Spanish] for the collective wisdom of this list. I'm trying to find out who is reading the many excellent children's books that are being published in Spanish these days. Have done some research and come up with the following conflicting "facts":
a. Hispanic parents do NOT want their children to read or learn Spanish; they want them to learn English.
b. Hispanic parents are very proud of their heritage and are looking for more books, magazines, etc. for their children in Spanish so their children will learn how to read Spanish.
c. When librarians hold story hours in which the books to be read are in Spanish, the kids who show up are Anglo children who are enrolled in Spanish immersion programs.
d. Books in Spanish are being used in the school systems in parts of Texas and southern California (is this true?).
e. Large populations of Spanish speaking and reading people are in California, Texas, the Southwest, Denver, Chicago, New York City and Miami.
f. Spanish readers in Florida do not buy children's books in Spanish.
g. There are no children's magazines in Spanish.
h. Scholastic has a children's magazine in Spanish, but it's for teens.
As you might imagine, I'm getting a little confused by all these conflicting statements. Have you worked with children who read Spanish? How? Are they being taught to read Spanish? Are they native speakers or non-native speakers or both? Do library collections of children's books in Spanish have a good circulation? How about those that are written in both Spanish and English? Are children's books in Spanish mostly fiction, or is there a good body of available non-fiction in Spanish? Is anyone teaching Spanish children's literature at the university level?
I appreciate any and all comments on this topic. I don't want to tie up the list; please feel free to reply to my e-mail (email@example.com) I'm going to post this to a couple of other lists, so I apologize in advance for any duplication. Many thanks for any insights you can offer.
Created July 25, 1997 and is continuously revised.
SCILS, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey